Bird is testing scooters that sound alarms and automatically stop when traveling on sidewalks

midian182

Posts: 7,293   +65
Staff member
Why it matters: Electric scooters have become a common sight in many of the world’s cities, but with them comes the annoyance, and danger, of people riding them on sidewalks. Shared rental service Bird, however, has come up with a solution that could address the problem.

Bird partnered with a Swiss-born company called U-blox to create an end-to-end GPS system “designed to deliver centimeter-level accuracy specifically for the micromobility industry.” It notes that GPS data in cities can be inaccurate due to signal interference from tall buildings, also called the “urban canyon” effect, but working with U-blox, the pair developed a custom multi-sensor and GPS module that offers much more accuracy than traditional solutions.

Anyone riding one of the scooters with the new tech will hear audio alerts if they mount a sidewalk—in addition to receiving notifications on their phones—warning them to return to the street. If this is ignored, the scooter will slow and gradually come to a standstill.

The system is based on a unique version of U-blox’s ZED-F9R module, a dual-band multi-constellation GNSS receiver that supports up to eight times more satellite signal types and four times more constellations (GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, and BeiDou) than standard solutions. It’s able to processes real-time vehicle data, including wheel speed, IMU sensor data including acceleration and spatial orientation, and real-time kinematic data that corrects for ionospheric interference.

Bird has laid out a step-by-step explanation of how its centimeter-level sidewalk mapping works:

Step 1: It starts with a geofence outline constructed from satellite imagery or city GIS data.

Step 2: From here, we use surveying equipment to measure the location of three city landmarks. Only a few measurements are needed for each city.

Step 3: Once the landmarks have been identified, we compare their location to the satellite imagery to determine offsets and rotations.

Step 4: We then use these offsets and rotation values to shift and transform each of our original geofence outlines.

Step 5: Finally, after our geofence outlines have been updated, they are pre-loaded onto our vehicles to eliminate latency.

The Smart Sidewalk Protection system is currently being tested in Milwaukee and San Diego, with Madrid set to be the first city in Europe to receive the new scooters. Bird says it is planning a wider rollout in 2022.

Bird previously tried using AI-powered cameras mounted to the scooters to detect sidewalk riders, but these expensive devices were at risk from vandalism and the weather, unlike the GPS system.

Permalink to story.

 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,451   +3,781
While I feel this is doomed to fail on scooters, I AM quite interested in a GPS system that can be accurate to within centimetres.

It would be great if my car's GPS could tell me which lane to be in...
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,615   +3,224
TechSpot Elite
"Sidewalk protection" 😂

I think the risk/damage of a car against a scooter is far greater than a scooter against a pedestrian. Besides reckless riders (which happens with any mode of transportation), how is this such a big deal?

I'll never understand why such a low risk/annoyance forced bicycles/scooters off of sidewalks in most places (especially places that are low in pedestrian density). It's only been recently that some cities have tried to reverse that...

It's these overprotective rules that have me never wanting to ride a bike around my city. I'd rather cruise around in my 1 ton tank :p
 
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Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,848   +4,513
The scourge of Europe, scooters! Glad we don't have to deal with these in the states.
They are ALL OVER american cities.
"Sidewalk protection" 😂

I think the risk/damage of a car against a scooter is far greater than a scooter against a pedestrian. Besides reckless riders (which happens with any mode of transportation), how is this such a big deal?

I'll never understand why such a low risk/annoyance forced bicycles/scooters off of sidewalks in most places (especially places that are low in pedestrian density). It's only been recently that some cities have tried to reverse that...

It's these overprotective rules that have me never wanting to ride a bike around my city. I'd rather cruise around in my 1 ton tank :p
Agreed. This is going to cause more issues because now these scooter riders are going to be clogging up the streets going the wrong way right into traffic, leaving scooters in the roads, ece. These silicon startups just dont understand how things work outside of a google or facebook campus.
 

Hexic

Posts: 1,084   +1,633
TechSpot Elite
We have Veo in my city, and they’re actually quite fun. Much faster than you’d expect.

However, I’m sure scooters sharing streets with cars are much, much safer than scooters sharing a sidewalk with pedestrians, right?

Sometimes, with logic like this, I really wonder how some people tie their own shoes in the morning.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 4,451   +3,781
It's still kind of in its infancy... there actually WAS a study conducted - here's the link...

Nearly 3 out of 5 e-scooter riders were injured riding on the sidewalk — and about a third of these riders got those injuries in places where sidewalk riding is prohibited. Only about 1 out of 5 was injured riding in the bike lane, multiuse trail or other off-road location.

Maybe city planners know something we don't?
 

psycros

Posts: 3,726   +4,740
Standing scooters should be limited to bike lanes and trails, period. Their not a good option in crowded areas and they attract the worst sort of riders. Get a bike or a Vespa and show some common sense and responsibilty.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 663   +505
I assume - it's conditional on speed - ie 3km per hour ok on sidewalks - saying that - that's walking speed - Never ridden one - but road works, or more importantly alleyways - which cars can not take .
In the bigger NZ cities is acceptable for younger kids to ride on the pavement- they most chug along at say 5-10 miles/hour - In my day grandpa would whack you with his cane . Head master - "no 2 abreasts" - you often saw 3 abreast - rarely 4 kids on same bike ( rider, handlebars, crossbar, carrier ) . However so many less cars on road ( more 1 car families - dad walked or biked to work ). Car was for weekly shop or family trips to beach/river to swim - or take as many kids who could fit in to and away sports game
 

Hexic

Posts: 1,084   +1,633
TechSpot Elite
It's still kind of in its infancy... there actually WAS a study conducted - here's the link...

Nearly 3 out of 5 e-scooter riders were injured riding on the sidewalk — and about a third of these riders got those injuries in places where sidewalk riding is prohibited. Only about 1 out of 5 was injured riding in the bike lane, multiuse trail or other off-road location.

Maybe city planners know something we don't?
“The picture is still not clear when it comes to where scooters should be ridden,” says Cicchino. “Our results suggest that moving scooters off the sidewalk could put riders at risk of more severe injuries, but as things stand they might be suffering these lesser injuries more often.”

I think city planners are, at best, guessing the best option. The biggest resounding conclusion from the study states that there is no conclusion.

The article states that bike lanes are rarely present in the case of reported injuries, thus begging the question of - is it safer to accept a higher level of risk with statistically lower severity injuries, or an [allegedly - no conclusion noted] lower amount of overall risk of an injury event, but greatly increase the average severity of injury?

I think city planners may be putting the cart before the horse, and making further assumptions from their initial assumptions on risk to begin with.